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Mostly *A in C: BNE-BKK-BLR-DEL-AGR-DEL-BLR-BKK-FRA-OSL-ARN-FRA-xBKK-xSYD-BNE

Mostly *A in C: BNE-BKK-BLR-DEL-AGR-DEL-BLR-BKK-FRA-OSL-ARN-FRA-xBKK-xSYD-BNE

Old Dec 31, 09, 5:15 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: BNE
Programs: ex AN*G(Diamond), TG*G, A3 *G, QF SG, DJ Plat, IC Platinum Ambassador
Posts: 288
Mostly *A in C: BNE-BKK-BLR-DEL-AGR-DEL-BLR-BKK-FRA-OSL-ARN-FRA-xBKK-xSYD-BNE

Part 1: Preamble

The AN*G family plan another mad trip - as is becoming a common occurrence for Mrs and Master AN*G to visit relatives in Europe for Christmas. I had a few business meetings in the Indian sub-continent and in Scandinavia, early in the new year, and so, the arrangement was for them to join me over in Scandinavia.

Yes, you saw the title right. With all that backtracking, the only transits were on the homeward journey.

Mrs & Master 6 were booked on a much simpler BNE-xBKK-FRA-OSL-ARN-FRA-xBKK-xSYD-BNE.

The Tickets
We all had BNE-BKK-FRA-BKK-BNE Q class tickets on TG, GUPped to J, with Mrs & Master 6 leaving just before Christmas, and me going a week after them.

We had separate FRA-OSL, OSL-ARN and ARN-FRA tickets all on SK (really, Mrs & Master 6 had two of them on the LH codeshare, as they were significantly cheaper at time of booking). These were all the cheapest economy tickets available.

Then, I had a BKK-BLR-BKK return ticket on TG, in Y (YRT) - company policy only allows business class on flights of 4 hours or more, and BKK-BLR is 3 hrs 55 minutes I could book, via Expedia a Q fare for around AUD 900, but the best the corporate travel agent could see was the YRT fare for AUD 1400! Still, this meant that the fare differential between YRT and J was only about AUD 200 each way - I was tempted to pay the difference myself.

DEL came in as an after thought - an invite from a corporate partner along the lines of "since you're in the area, why not come by and visit us"... and so, BLR-DEL-BLR was booked as another ticket, on JetLite (I am so not looking forward to it). And, a further after thought, courtesy of Mrs AN*G - since you're in DEL over a weekend, and you have nothing to do, go see the Taj Mahal - and thus, DEL-AGR-DEL on Kingfisher Red joined the plan.

After an early Christmas, I dropped off Mrs AN*G and Master 6 at the unusual time of noon - with the TG flight from BNE-BKK changing from a midnight departure to a 1420 departure. I'm told that BNE-BKK was completely full in J, BKK-FRA was mostly empty in J, and that the movie selection was pretty dismal. Let's see how it compares with my upcoming flights.
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Old Dec 31, 09, 6:02 am
  #2  
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Part 2: BNE-BKK on TG454 Thai Airways 777-200 Business Class

BNE-BKK
TG454

And so, it was my turn to fly. Having checked, double checked and triple checked all the oven, stovetops, air conditioners, washing machine, windows, locks, alarm, dogs, local kangaroos and carpet pythons (we live on a rural bush block), and handed the keys over to the housesitter, I waited for my ride (courtesy of newly retired parents) to the airport. The 777-200 now flies the BNE-BKK sector, with J in a 2-2-2 configuration. At least, there's no longer any risk of a 777 substitution resulting in old J seats. ExpertFlyer was showing C1 D1 J0 Z0 for a few days before, and doing the online checkin indicated that only 1 vacant seat was available in J. Must be the holiday crowd.

After getting mildly confused because of the completely new road and carpark situation at both terminals with the opening of the Gateway 2 extension and the new access roads, checking in was a breeze. I noticed the "offer to purchase an upgrade" sign up for USD 695 - and wondered if they were trying to sell their last seat in J, or if some last minute cancellations had occurred. Out of curiosity, I asked about the load in J and was told 23/27. It wasn't till going through security that the oddity struck me - out of 27? I thought the 777-200 had 30 J seats?

Only ended up having about 20 minutes in the NZ lounge, due to needing to get a few GST refunds processed and needing to buy new luggage locks (Mrs AN*G having taken all). One thing stood out though - my carry on bag was weighed twice! It is rare to be even weighed once at BNE, but this time, both the check-in lady, and the security guard (the atypical jolly, humorous one) weighed most carry on bags. Going through the x-ray scanners, I wondered if we'd be asked to deposit our underwear in the trays in addition to the liquids, gels, computers, and shoes that already get screened separately. Thankfully, no such requirement was in place yet. A quick text to Mrs AN*G confirmed the carry-on weighing - possibly a Christmas tightening of the rules? Apparently one of their carry-ons came in at 8.9kg (all the ski wear - they are surviving 3 weeks in Europe with 3 carry-ons and no checked in bags between the 2 of them!), and the check-in lady was fine with that, and tagged it with a Royal Silk tag, but the security guard was going to make them re-pack the bags (Master 6's backpack was only 2.9kg), until the Royal Silk tag was pointed out).

On board, business class was completely full. 27/27. And, I remembered the reason for the missing 3 seats. TG blocks 3 J seats for crew rest - though I never saw more than 1 in use at any point in time. Y was about 60%-70% full from my quick peek. Thus, some people must have purchased the standby upgrade. Overheard a funny exchange from someone I guess was one of the standby upgraders - went to take his jacket off, then hesitated, and asked one of the cabin crew if he was allowed to have short sleeves in business class.

Being a day flight, no sleep was on the agenda, and Mrs AN*G assessment of the movie selection was spot-on - quite poor. I made a start on 4 movies, not to see more than 10 minutes of each, and then finally settled on the Sound of Music for the umpteenth time - and the scene when Capt von Trapp sings Edelweiss for the first time never fails to bring tears to my eyes even after all these times.

Completely uneventful flight, though there were quite a few bumps through much of the flight. Upon landing, I made my way through immigration and had a long, long, 30 minute wait before the bags started to appear - and there were lots of bags on the belts. More evidence perhaps that the Christmas season leads to lots of extra baggage?

Because of the horrible timing for connecting flights to BLR (the BNE flight gets in at 2030 and the BLR flight leaves at 2050, and I wasn't prepared to chance a 20 minute connection) I overnighted at the Novotel BKK airport. As it turned out, the BNE flight got in at 1945, and so, I could have made the same day BLR connection, but with a checked-in bag, and hotel reservations, I decided to stick to the plan, much as I think the Novotel BKK overcharges.

Next: Part 3: BKK-BLR (Part 2 is being sent from the TG D concourse lounge whilst waiting for this flight to board)

Last edited by AN*G-BNE; Jan 4, 10 at 7:22 am
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Old Jan 1, 10, 12:42 am
  #3  
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Part 3: BKK-BLR on TG325 Thai Airways Business Class (Op-Up)

BKK-BLR
TG325

I made sure I got back to the airport with time to spare, since I wanted to see about upgrading my Y ticket to business. Checking with ExpertFlyer the day before, and just before leaving had shown that all economy classes were zeroed out, and all business classes still showing full availability, so I was going to do upfare my ticket if no op-up was forthcoming.

The shuttle from the Novotel back to departures was quite empty, with only 1 other passenger on board. I instinctively got out at Door 1, before remembering that I couldn't use the Zone A check-in desks, having only an economy ticket, so took a walk down to the Star Gold check-in zone in the middle of the terminal.

The lines were not too bad, only 5 or so people waiting, though, the economy boarding lines were about as bad as I'd ever seen at BKK. Handing over my passport, eticket printout and gold card, I asked about the loads in the cabin. After a bit of tapping, I was told with a smile that because Y was oversold, because I was on a full fare Y and ROP Gold, they'd upgraded me to C. The agent suggested that I actually go back to Zone A to check-in, as the immigration and security lines were very, very long, and it would be much quicker at the fast track counters.

So, back I went to Zone A, where e-ticket printouts were checked for eligibility before access was granted to that check-in zone (section A is used only for business and first class TG passengers). Since I didn't have an e-ticket showing business class, I just told the security guard that I didn't have a printout, and verbally confirmed I was flying TG business, pointing to the TG Royal Silk tag on my carry-on bag from my last trip. All check-in stations (desks with 2 low seats, and the bizarre beach umbrellas) were in use, and for some reason, a quick glance along all the desks showed various levels of consternation on the faces of the occupants - everyone having problems tonight? After a wait of about 3-4 minutes, one desk freed up (only because the couple at the desk needed to be handed over to some senior agent to resolve some issues).

Gave my passport & ROP gold card over again, told the check-in lady my destination, and that I knew I had an op-up, and my check-in was processed, with only one minor hiccup - I typically get my bag plastic-wrapped at airports which offer the service, which BKK does, and this time, the bag wrapper forgot to cut open either of the bag handles - only the extendable roller handle, so the agent had to grab a pair of scissors to cut open the handles to attach the bag tag to.

No one was in at immigration or security at all, so it was a very quick trip through both, leading right to the escalators down into the D concourse Royal Orchid lounge. My plan was to do some lounge hopping, a drink at the D concourse lounge, dinner at the SQ Silver Kris lounge, and then off to the closest lounge to departure (the gate wasn't showing at that time, so I didn't know which lounge that would be).

As many others have reported, the food range and quality at the TG BKK lounges have gone downhill - only some dim sims, some very dry and not appealing looking noodles, and cut sandwiches - with none of my favourite jellies. The drink selection has also deteriorated - cost cutting is definitely evident here. After an hour catching up on emails and sending the earlier parts of this TR, I left the BKK lounge and headed over to the SQ lounge for dinner.

No questions asked at all by the SQ lounge dragons (I use the term loosely, as these two certainly did not look like, nor behave like, your typical lounge dragon - could not have been more pleasant or welcoming, even though I was neither flying SQ nor holding any SQ card). Dinner ended up being curry chicken and rice, a selection of dim sims (bbq pork buns, pork and shrimp siu mai) topped off by some fresh fruit and the standard SQ Haagen Daaz ice-cream. The only downside was me tripping over the little ramp-step both ways in and out of the lounge, which I attribute to my carelessness in checking in my normal distance glasses, meaning that I had to wear my reading glasses all the way from the airport to the hotel in Bangalore.

By that time, I'd discovered that TG325 was leaving from concourse C, so decided to just stay in the SQ lounge till boarding time. Leaving the lounge, I took the long walk to C8, reaching just as they were making the "we're boarding in 5 minutes" call. Observation 1. This was very clearly a flight filled with holidaying families from BLR returning to BLR. Observation 2. Carry-on baggage limits were not being enforced even loosely at BKK. Observation 3. As with every group of holidaying passengers, "we're boarding in 5 minutes, and we're boarding business and Star Gold passengers first" translates to "let's storm the gate and start lining up to block the premium passengers from getting through, so maybe we can board first and take all the overhead bin space".

Fortunately, I worked my way around, behind the large speakers to the gate, getting there just as the "Royal Silk and Star Gold" placard bearing attendant reached the door. A fellow seasoned traveller was right in front of me, purple business class boarding pass in hand, both of us subtly showing boarding passes to the attendant whilst walking through into the aerobridge before the mobs could swarm.

This was an excellent cabin crew. Right from the moment of boarding the aircraft, it was evident that it was going to be a good flight - greeting by name, escorting to your seat, helping you get all set-up and bringing round a drink before you could even sit. Another TG equipment swap, though to my advantage this time. Although this flight was showing as the older A330-300s (code 333) with 42 seats in J, it turned out to be one of the newer A330-300s (code 330), with the hard shell seat and the PTV in the shell of the seat in front of you. Not a lie-flat seat though, but with the recliner within the hard shell. Perfectly adequate for a short-haul flight After 15 minutes, it was apparent that this was going to be an empty business class cabin. 36 seats in J (including 2 specially designated as crew rest seats), and in the end, only 5 were occupied. A quick glance at the manifest left hanging in the galley showed that there were only 2 ROP golds on the flight - definitely a tourist / holiday maker flight. With 3 cabin crew dedicated to the J cabin, the service ratio was clearly excellent.

Even though I was handed a menu, I declined the meal service, having filled myself up in the SQ lounge, and opted to go straight to sleep after take-off. And so I did, being incredibly tired, right until the captain came back on the PA to advise of the final descent.

BLR immigration and customs was efficient, with the priority tagged bags already on the carousel once I'd got through immigration. Quite amazing really, given that I did not have to wait for immigration at all. Going through customs and out into the public area, I spotted my hotel driver immediately.

BLR traffic was interesting. It appears that the lane markings on the highways serve 3 simultaneous purposes. Firstly, as common in Western countries, the delineate the area within which vehicles are expected to drive. Secondly, they appear to serve the same purpose as the markings on a runway - you line the middle of your car up with the line. Thirdly, they keep line painters in a job, since they don't appear to have any real purpose in terms of traffic control. When approaching an intersection, protocol seems to be that you keep driving through regardless of who is already in the intersection, sounding your horn to let them know you're coming.

Next: BLR, and trips around India

Last edited by AN*G-BNE; Jan 4, 10 at 7:23 am
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Old Jan 2, 10, 10:24 am
  #4  
 
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Really enjoying the TR so far. Thanks!
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Old Jan 3, 10, 4:52 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2006
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AN*G-BNE , how good is it so far, loved the BLR road painters, if you had planned a transit, you know the flight would have been late, I did a 20minute transfer over Xmas and it nearly killed me, one end of BKK to the other, keep them coming, love your writting, regards bkkrop
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Old Jan 3, 10, 8:16 pm
  #6  
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In BLR

With a spare few hours in BLR, my missions were to get some small souvenirs, and to get an Indian prepaid mobile SIM. The latter turned out to be a challenge, and has resulted in me resolving to document the process of getting prepaid mobile SIMs in all future trip reports, for the benefit of travelers to come.

Initial research had revealed that getting a prepaid mobile SIM in India was not a trivial exercise. Documentary evidence required included a copy of your passport, plus proof of residential address, plus with a self-attested colour passport sized photo. I had none of those in hand, simply my original passport. But, the stubborn part of me insisted that this mission was achievable.

India, from first impressions, has very bureaucratic processes, but if approached in the right way, a simple way can be found to get around the bureaucracy. With that in mind, I strolled down the main shopping street (Brigade Road, up at the M.G. Road end). I knew, from prior research that if nation-wide use was important (it was to me), to ensure that the service you purchased supported national roaming. Good reports had been read about Airtel. Then, walking down the road, I was accosted by a sales promotions crew of young boys and girls, selling a special promotion of what I took to be Airtel SIMs – free SIM, INR 99 top-up required for 5,000 free minutes of calls, free internet for 1 month, national roaming. I was sold. Choosing a number, I waited to see what would happen with regards to ID. Presenting my passport, I told them that was all I had. No problems, they said. There's a Xerox shop round the corner which can get a copy made for INR 1. No photo? No problems too – you can get one down the 2nd left. Easier said than done. The Xerox shop had no electricity – so we walked (I was accompanied by one of the sales crew) for 5 minutes to another one. No electricity either – apparently load shedding was in operation for an hour. We waited there, and 10 minutes later, and 1 rupee (2 Australian cents) changed hands for a Xerox. Photo studio? Just down there. Unfortunately, the studio they sent me to had no working camera. But, I was referred to another one. Yes, we have a camera, but the cameraman is away on lunch and won't be back for an hour. Come one – how difficult is it to take a photo? No – no one else allowed to touch camera. Ok, I said, I'll be back (with no intentions of doing so). It was time to try things the other way. I walked into a small corner shop with mobile network stickers, and asked outright if I could get a SIM, with Internet and national roaming and no paperwork required. Yes was the answer – I was offered an Airtel SIM, already activated, and 1 week unlimited EDGE/GPRS would cost INR 49 (1 Australian dollar). Minimum top-up INR 100, and a “service fee” of INR 200. So, INR 300 changed hands, the shopkeeper transferred INR 100 from his prepaid account to this SIM, sent off the appropriate SMS to activate the GPRS service, and showed me that I had a balance of INR 51 left, and 3 years to use it. No name, no paperwork, just a small by Western standards “service fee”. Even showed me Google working, and got me to plug it into my notebook to make sure it worked, which it did. Then it struck me – the SIM looked completely different. I walked back past the other promotions stand and looked more closely – aha! There's Airtel and Aircel. Never mind. I now have a working mobile internet connection.

Next stop, souvenirs. Now, it was very apparent that I was 1 of about 4 foreigners walking in Bangalore at that time. And so, I probably had “tourist” stamped all over my forehead. So, when a local taxicab (3 wheeled LPG motorised trishaw death-trap) driver came up and started talking to me, I immediately cottoned on to the scam and waited for it to unfold. The offer was – only INR 20, and I'll take you back to your hotel. Playing it through, I countered – straight back to hotel, no detours to shops for INR 20 – if you stop at a shop, you pay me INR 20. His face fell quickly, so I asked what the finders fee was, to see what sort of deal I could strike, since I knew I was in the market for certain things. Apparently, the current deal is that for each sucker he delivers to a shop, he gets a voucher for half a litre of gas (about INR 15). So, since I had some time to spare, and did want to pick up a few things anyway, I proposed a deal. No charge – you can take me to 3 shops to get these specific things I want – and you can collect your gas vouchers, and if you can do that and I get all these things and you can get me back to the hotel in 1 hour, I'll give you a INR 50 tip. All in all, I thought it was a pretty good deal for him, but also allowed me to experience Indian traffic from a different angle and accomplish the other mission. Apparently he thought it was a pretty good deal too, and jumped at it happily. The challenge was on, and from the way he started weaving through traffic, leaving inches between vehicles at the top speed that thing would go at (according to my GPS, top speed is about 25 km/h), he was hellbent on meeting the 1 hour deadline. After the third time I realised I could reach out and touch the occupants of the car we were weaving by, I began to regret the 1 hour challenge. He was true to his word though – I got everything I wanted and no more, though the hard sell was on at every store. Made it back to the hotel well within the hour, and then, a new twist to the tourist scam I hadn't come across before – he professed to be a collector of foreign currency notes and coins and wondered if I had any to spare (hmmmm... to most tourists, a spare Australian 2 dollar coin wouldn't even be missed, whilst that would equate to INR 90 – more than what he would have collected in gas vouchers, and fee/tip). I admire his ingenuity. I was happy though with the experience and what I got – and he turned out to be a pretty good tour guide with commentary all the way.

The next morning, time for my BLR-DEL-AGR flight to become a tourist for the day.
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Old Jan 3, 10, 8:19 pm
  #7  
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Part 5: BLR-DEL on S2 232 JetLite Economy Class

The night before, I had booked a car & driver to pick me up at 5am to go to the airport for my 7am flight. Waking up at 4am, I copied my boarding passes to my USB, and ducked to the business centre to print them out. Then, a quick pack up, check out with left luggage for my return, and at 4.45am I was ready and so was the car. With no traffic, the trip to BLR was still 40 minutes, and I had my boarding passes and itinerary and passport all ready as I approached the entrance to the terminal (only passengers allowed in the terminal)


Once in, the display board showed that Jet Lite S2 232 was checking in at counters 08 to 11. One long line. It looked like I was going to be the only foreigner on this flight, and also that it looked like bags would outnumber passengers by about 5 to 1. The line was very slow moving, and when it was my turn, I was told that due to fog in DEL, the flight would be 90 minutes late. Great. My 2 hour connection in DEL was now 30 minutes, and on separate tickets with different airlines. I mentioned that to the check-in lady, who told me not to worry as “everything in DEL will be running very late”, but she would give me 1C – aisle bulkhead so I'd be first off the aircraft.

At 0800, 1 hour after the scheduled departure time, boarding was finally called. It was a reasonably quick boarding process – out to the bus, for a ride to the JetLite 737-800



Boarding was via stairs at both 1L and 4L, with cabin crew crossing names off a list at the foot of the stairs. Once we were all in, we were told that there was another 20 minute ATC delay due to the queue of planes wanting to land at DEL and we would be in around 1130. That would give me 10 minutes to my scheduled departure. All I could do now was hope that they were right, and that DEL would be so backed up that my DEL-AGR flight was significantly delayed too.

Small (200ml) bottles of water were handed out right after the safety demonstration, as were “scratch and win” cards – apparently I won a string of pearls valued at INR 2500, redeemable at the airport counter for a handling fee of INR 599... sure...

An auction card was also handed out, for passengers to bid on certain items, with the winning bids to be announced at the end of the flight. I didn't bid on anything, and given the lack of announcements regarding winning bids, I don't think anyone else bid on anything either.

At around 1110 it became apparent to me that we were in a holding pattern, though everyone else seemed oblivious. Thought I'd stir things up somewhat by asking one of the flight crew whether ATC had indicated the duration of the holding pattern, to which the response was a blank stare and a “captain hasn't said we're holding, sir”. Yeah, right, so why are we doing repeated four minute turns? A couple of minutes after that, the FO came on to announce that because visibility at DEL was 200 metres, movements were restricted, and we would be holding for 45 minutes, with a touchdown of 1210.

200m visibility? There was no way my flight to Agra, on an ATR-72 was going to be taking off in 200m visibility. So, my thoughts then switched to what I should do next. Abandon the whole idea of the Taj Mahal and just claim a refund on the cancelled flight, and the prepaid hotel room on travel insurance? No – I'd come all this way and I was going to get there, one way or another.

1B was empty, 1A was occupied by a holy man of sorts (sorry – I'm not too good at telling the various religious orders apart), who in keeping with the contrasts in India today, was equipped with iPhone. And 1D was highly agitated because of a fear that he would miss his international connection to KTM.

Right on schedule we came out of the holding pattern, and hit the ground pretty much spot on 1210. Unfortunately, a long taxi was ahead of us, and as this was my first time at DEL, I had no idea whether that was normal or not. However, as we pulled up next to TG and LH birds, it soon became apparent that we were parked on the apron normally used for the international terminal. Soon, the reason became evident – over the PA we were told that this aircraft was continuing on to KTM, and 1D was happy – until he was told he'd have to deplane, bus over to the domestic terminal, collect his bags (no interlining on JetLite), clear security, catch a bus back to the international terminal, recheck his bags, clear immigration, clear security, etc, by which time the plane might have departed.

The visibility at DEL was poor - as this photo from the bus shows.


Next: Getting to Agra

Last edited by AN*G-BNE; Jan 4, 10 at 7:24 am
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Old Jan 3, 10, 8:56 pm
  #8  
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Part 6: DEL

In DEL

The bus trip from the international apron to the domestic terminal took just over 22 minutes (I timed it). It does not appear to be a well designed route, with crossings of the main runway and several taxiways. In fact, I counted 7 stops, which I can only surmise were for ground control clearance. 1Ds chances of making the connection were getting slimmer and slimmer.

At 1247, we finally entered the domestic terminal, more than 3 hours later than planned. Looking at the weather, and the number of planes parked, I was sure my flight to AGR was still on the ground and not going anywhere in a hurry, but thought I'd better check. Guess what. In what has to be one of the worst designed airport layouts ever, domestic arrivals is at terminal IC, and departures at terminal 1D. And how do you get from 1C to 1D? You exit, onto the road, and walk through the rain, up some stairs and through a car park, of course. If there was an easier way, I missed it. Ok, then maybe I could check the monitors in 1C to see my flight status. What? No monitors? There are no display monitors for departures in 1C. So, it was off to trek to 1D, and straight into the throng of humanity trying to rebook their seats since nothing was leaving DEL. I had briefly contemplated trying to get a refund for my cancelled flight there and then, but being confronted with a mass of frustrated and upset passengers, most of whom were probably once a year travellers, I gave that up as a bad, bad idea.

So, the next step was to look to arrange a car. Guess what? The only car hire counters were back in 1C, or in the international terminal. Ok, walk back to 1C. By then, experienced traveller as I may be, this was really starting to annoy me. Walking briskly straight into 1C as one is wont to do when entering an airport terminal, pounding feet behind me started to alert me to the fact that either something might be wrong, or a herd of elephants had just deplaned. So, I turned around, right into a security guard whom I had just walked by and ignored, right into the arrivals terminal. Apparently, you aren't allowed to go into an arrivals terminal, since it is only for passengers arriving from flights. I showed him my boarding pass and told him I'd just arrived, but accidentally left the terminal without realising the car hire counters were inside the arrivals terminal. Apparently that wasn't a good enough reason. Did I mention something about bureaucracy earlier? So, I explained the Agra predicament to him, and he smiled and told me he had a brother of a friend who could drive me there and offered me his mobile number. I'm slowly beginning to get the picture of how things work here. I smiled back, thanked him for the number, put it in my phone and pretended to dial it, walking around, further and further into the arrivals terminal, and further and further away from the door he was supposed to be guarding, and closer and closer to the car hire counters.

At the first counter, they couldn't help (too far away), but directed me to another. Second counter couldn't help either, but offered another brother of some acquaintance. Third counter had a car and driver who could drive me there, take me round to all the sights, stay overnight and drive me back to DEL tomorrow. And all for about half the cost of the refund I'd get from the unused air ticket. After establishing the bona fides of the car and driver, and making it clear safe driving would be rewarded with a generous tip, in we got, and off we went.

Next: The trip to Agra

Last edited by AN*G-BNE; Jan 3, 10 at 9:09 pm
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Old Jan 3, 10, 8:58 pm
  #9  
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Posts: 288
Part 7: DEL to Agra

Driving through the countryside gives you a new perspective on the way of life. In hindsight, I'm glad circumstances forced me into this option, particularly as I can write this now, safe back in DEL, having survived 10 hours of Indian traffic. Let me summarise the local traffic rules, as far as I can understand them.
  1. Stopping is environmentally unfriendly. Therefore, conserve your brakes and the gas required to re-accellerate and just weave your way through the traffic, regardless of whether it is going in the same direction as you, coming towards you, or going across you.
  2. The purpose of the horn is to advise other motorists that you are coming, and you're not stopping and they'd better work out how to weave around you.
  3. Number 2 applies to pedestrians as well.
  4. Number 2 applies to cyclists, tractors and horse drawn carts as well.
  5. Number 2 does not apply to cows and other unridden livestock like chickens and sheep.
  6. A vehicle is considered roadworthy even if you only have 2 doors (and duct tape holding the others in), tyres without tread or indicators that do not work.
  7. A vehicle is considered unroadworthy if the horn does not work.
  8. Traffic lights are only applicable if between 20-25 vehicles are approaching that intersection simultaneously. If less than 20 vehicles are present, see number 2. If more than 25 vehicles are present, all should enter the intersection and then apply number 2.
  9. If a vehicle bearing tourist taxi number plates, and carrying what obviously looks like a foreigner stops because of traffic lights, or the incorrect operation of number 2, or if the driver has to make a strategically timed stop to pay some tax, or refuel, all local street vendors within a 200m radius are required to descend upon said vehicle.

Beyond that, I don't think any other road rules apply. I am uncertain if the requirement is to drive on the left hand side of the road, or the right hand side of the road.


On the way, some interesting sights of note included:
  1. repeated demonstrations as to the sturdiness of the local Indian motorised 3 wheeler pedicab. It is possible to fit entire villages in one, by loading up the benches inside, allowing passengers to stand on the rear bumper and hang on to the roof, and allowing more passengers to sit on the rear bumper between the legs of the afore-mentioned standing passengers.
  2. it is similarly possible to fit families of 6 on a 125cc motorcycle, through judicious use of baskets, mother's laps, and father's shoulders.
  3. Trucks can be loaded up to three times their cab height, and double their width, through the use of large canvases thrown over the goods and tied down tight. This often lead to said trucks overbalancing and tipping over onto their sides, spilling their load onto the road. This is not unusual.
  4. If you have a traffic accident, the entire extended family of the injured one, plus the entire extended family of the villagers, will descend upon the at fault driver's car, bashing away at the windows, roofs and doors and yelling (observed twice).
  5. Mobile phone shops are the most common sight, particularly in derelict villages.

Next: Agra and the Taj Mahal
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Old Jan 4, 10, 7:28 am
  #10  
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Part 8: Agra and the Taj Mahal

We arrived at my hotel, the Trident (formerly Hilton) around 6.30pm, after about a 5 hour drive, and about 6 hours later than I had planned. All I wanted then was dinner, a shower and bed, having awoken at 4am and done nothing but the most tiring form of travel. Impressions of the Trident – as is reported widely on TripAdvisor, it is a very dated hotel, with rooms in dire need of refreshing, and a most insipid dinner buffet. Whilst probably once a 5 star place, these days, it would struggle to get 3. Undoubtedly friendly staff, but a place that has seen better days.

The next morning, I was picked up at 7am by my driver, and a local guide I had organised. Because petrol cars are not permitted in the zone of the Taj Mahal, we had to switch to a battery powered golf cart to take us up to the entrance. As with most monuments around the world, the locals have the service industry well in hand, and though the local guide makes a big show of “steering you clear” of the trouble spots or the untrustworthy providers, there's obviously a tour cartel in operation. Still, when one is short of time, sometimes it's worth giving in to get the most out of a short time.



One thing that strikes me – it is so large, and so small at the same time. It is an amazing structure externally. Visually, it dominates the landscape and your eye is immediately drawn to the overpowering presence of the central dome. Inside, and you discover that the one and only room of interest (the “upstairs” of the burial crypts of the King and Queen) is about the size of most hotel rooms, and other than the two crypts, there's nothing else there. That's not to distract from the amazing craftsmanship done by the artisans' of centuries ago – I cannot do the beauty and elegance of that work justice in words, and so I won't even try.

The two external main structures, the mosque and the royal guest house, are also impressive structures, though shadowed into insignificance somewhat by the majesty of the Taj. One minor quibble though, which someone detracted from the experience for me. The entrance of the royal guest house has a modern, electronic LED running sign (I couldn't read what it said) – and that one piece of 20th century technology was so out of place.

Was it worth the hassles of getting here? Unequivocally yes. Would I do it by car again next time? Probably not – the time and the dangers make the plane or train much more attractive options for the future.

Returning to DEL was simply the reverse of the trip to AGR, so I won't say anymore about it, except that I survived!!!
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Old Jan 4, 10, 8:05 am
  #11  
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Part 9: DEL - BLR 9W 1834 Jet Airways 737-800

Part 9
DEL – BLR

Sadly, whilst I was in Agra, during my insipid dinner, I heard from my contact in DEL, advising that our planned get-together would not be able to happen, due to a death in the family. So, I decided to switch my flight to a day earlier, and booked myself on the JetLite S2 233 service departing BLR at 1710.

On the drive back, I had been checking ExpertFlyer, and the airline websites from my netbook with local mobile broadband, and S2 233 appeared to be on schedule and departing on time. So were most other flights, with only the odd delay, and very few cancellations (one of those was my booked return AGR-DEL flight, which meant that I should find it very easy to get the refund organised).

We arrived back at DEL at 1440 (really good traffic run, only taking about 4 hours), and the JetLite counters were quite quiet – 4 counters open, and only about 7 groups all together in queue. So, I waited in line for a few minutes, and then realised that the queue lines were really only there for appearances. Protocol appeared to be to look around for whichever counter looked like it was finishing, and then rush over there and plonk your documents down on the desk, even though the previous group was still being processed, and then hold your ground so no one else jumped in. Once I had that worked out, I did the same, only to be told that yes, S2 233 is actually operating and is on time, but it's yesterday's flight that's going out 24 hours late, and it's full. I was then told that an additional service was being run by Jet Konnect (another of the subsidiaries of Jet Airways, and that I had been offloaded to it – departing at 1730.) He hand-wrote my new ticket number on a bit of paper and told me to go over to the Jet Airways counters to check in. Which were, umm... about 100 long with 2 counters open?

I had 2 and a half hours, so wasn't too worried, although there were other passengers in the queue with flights departing in the next hour. Besides, it looked like the bulk of the queue was made up of groups of 6 to 10, meaning that once a counter was free, large chunks of the queue moved forward. Fortunately, after about 10 minutes of waiting, an additional 4 or 5 counters opened, and things started moving. Very smooth checkin, and I had a boarding pass for 10D (the first bulkhead economy row on the Jet Airways 737-800) on 9W 1834. Security was disappointingly disinterested. With nothing out of my bag except my laptop, and nothing more than a cursory pat-down, even the x-ray operators seemed more interested in the local gossip than what was on the machine. It was off then to look on the board for my flight and the gate.

Guess what. No such flight listed. Even though the board had flights up to 1900 departure showing, 9W 1834 was missing. Ok, off to the service desk then to find out what was going on. The service desk attendant tried to be helpful, but to no avail. Finally, he collared a Jet Airways representative as he walked by and asked something (not speaking the local language, I'm assuming he was asking about the flight, although he could quite as well have been asking him to get rid of this pesky foreigner). Eventually, after a phone call, we (by this time, several other passengers with the same query had approached the service desk) were told that because 1834 was an additional flight, the Delhi Airport's IT systems couldn't cope with non-scheduled flights and so we would just have to wait for some announcements.

The layout of Delhi Airport is that the check-in counters and security, plus the main waiting areas are on Level 1, a Food Court (quite large) is up on Level 2, and the boarding gates are down on Level 0. You're only supposed to go down to Level 0 once your flight is showing as boarding. I headed up to the Food Court to grab an early dinner as I didn't have lounge access, and I was not trusting for one minute that we would actually leave as scheduled at 1730. A bit before our scheduled boarding time of 1700, I went back to the information desk, where many other passengers were obviously asking the same thing. Eventually, we were told to go to Gate 10, but to wait until boarding was called. Not being prepared to take the chance, I merged in with a group of loud passengers going through the security guard, waved my boarding pass at him and told him I was going to Bangalore and my flight was boarding... in French... working on the basis that he didn't speak French, and would rather not question someone who apparently didn't speak English and obviously didn't speak Hindi.

Down on Level 0, I found Gate 10, to find the Captain and First Officer standing at the gate in obvious displeasure that there was no one there to let them get to their plane. Unfortunately, the display boards were showing that this gate was boarding the 1745 flight to Calcutta (CCU) and many passengers waiting at Gate 10 were headed to CCU, by the looks of their boarding passes (holidaying passengers tend to clutch their boarding passes out in the open for fear that they'll lose them). Around 1700, a Jet Airways representative came running over and told the Captain and Flight Officer to follow her – and off they went to Gate 13. Still no announcement nor display anywhere. I hung around in the area between Gates 10 and 13, and around 1715 the rep came back and asked for all passengers to Bangalore to follow her to Gate 13. Unfortunately, Gate 11 was boarding a Spice Jet flight to Bangalore too, and that caused even more confusion.

Once all sorted, we piled into the bus to be transferred out to our plane – which turned out to be a 2 class Jet Airways plane parked over at international. Grrrr... 20 more minutes on the bus, and we were finally on board. By now, it was 1745 and we were told we were still waiting on another bus load, which promptly turned up. Around 1800 we were all loaded, and then, we were told that more passengers were being off-loaded to our flight and we had to wait for them. I fired off a quick text to the hotel, hoping they could catch the driver and advise him of the delay.It wasn't till 1845 that we pushed back, and a long taxi, plus waiting for 4 incoming jets to land (with a 4 minute separation due to the closing in fog), meant that it was 1925 before we were airborne, 20 minutes before we were originally scheduled to land.

Although it was a jet Airways plane, it was being treated as a Jet Konnect flight, which meant buy-on-board food and drinks, and no IFE. Fortunately, the Captain announced that he'd stuff company policy and turn on the IFE to make up for the delays, which was greeted with much appreciation from the passengers. The flight path on the IFE was set to a destination of DEL though, which gave rise to very interesting arrival times. Notice the green and yellow flight path and future path lines on the IFE



The flight itself was uneventful, and I spent most of that time writing Parts 6 to 8 of this report, and just about finished Part 8 as we approached for final descent into BLR.

Next: BLR-BKK, but that will be in a few days time as I have quite a few meetings ahead of me here in BLR before I leave
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Old Jan 7, 10, 11:43 pm
  #12  
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Part 10: BLR-BKK TG326 Airbus 330-300

BLR-BKK
TG326 Airbus 330-300

I had been waitlisted on the flight a day later for nearly a week now, with no luck. Eventually I cancelled the waitlist and booked myself a Bangkok hotel for the night. It has only struck me now that TG has a guaranteed economy seat for their TG*G members booked in Y, B or M, which I was. I'm now kicking myself for not asking for that guarantee.

The day before, I had checked ExpertFlyer again to see what the loads were like. Again, looking good for an op-up, with all economy classes closed for waitlisting, and business showing 4 in all sub-classes. Then, the on-line check-in. Yes! Definitely well oversold in Y, as the magical “C” was already showing in the Class field of the on-line check-in. Another op-up. This is obviously a good route for *Gs to fly at this time of the year. C was also showing the new 330 configuration, with only 6 rows of C – the new plane again.

After a long few days of meetings, it was time to head back to the airport. I wasn't looking forward to the wait at the airport, as I had already checked out of my hotel before the day's meetings, and was travelling from my last meeting straight to the airport. Thus, even allowing for Bangalore traffic, I expected to be at the airport around 6pm, and I knew TG check-in would not open until 9pm (3 hrs 30 mins before ETD). Fortunately (if you can call it fortunate), traffic was even worse than what I was told was normal, and it wasn't until 6.35pm that we pulled into the airport.

BLR has only 1 terminal, shared between international and domestic, with shared check-in facilities, and just some partitions separating international immigration from the domestic gates. Approaching the terminal, the security lady looked at my itinerary and asked if I really wanted to go into the terminal so early, as I would not be allowed out once I had gone in. So, I asked what the options were. Well, she said, I could either stand out on the footpath and wait in the cold and drizzle (or what passes for cold in Bangalore anyway), or go in and either sit down in the check-in area or go up to the shops in the domestic part of the terminal). Hmmm... tough choice there.

Inside, the board was already showing the TG flight as checking in at counters 26-31. I walked around aimlessly, looked through a few shops, had a snack, found somewhere near a power point and caught up on email and FT, watched the check-in counters and the passengers and repeated the whole process several times. I started a new game of “pick the destination” - watch the passengers come in to the terminal, and pick where they are flying to (by seeing which check-in counter they went to). Given that there were only about 5 departing flights, my success rate of about 25% told me that I'd never make a detective. A young Swiss lass sitting next to me in the check-in area was most bemused by my game, and was much more successful, getting well over half right (I found out that she was an FT lurker, so if you're reading this, hi, and hope you've found a new way of passing time in airports). Also got my bags shrink-wrapped again.

At around 8.50pm, I noticed some action. About 8 check-in agents appeared to stand in a team bonding huddle right in front of those counters. It almost looked like they were about to run on to a playoff match instead of opening a flight for check-in. Maybe discussing strategies to deal with passengers insisting on upgrades, or passengers with 45kg of carry-ons? A team of about 6 airport staff started re-setting up those moveable barriers, to reconfigure the counters from a N-N (N queues for N counters) Kingfisher check-in to a single long winding queue for economy, and a single straight queue for business. Another staff came with the normal purple Royal Silk carpet in a wheelbarrow and promptly laid it out.

Whatever team strategies they were discussing, it must have been complex, because only 20 minutes later, at 9.10pm, did they move behind their counters. Interestingly enough, it looks like the displays above each counter indicating the purpose are controlled locally. Thus, as each IT (Kingfisher) agent signed off, the screen reverted to a default “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” message, and as each generic BATS (I assume Bangalore Airport Terminal Services?) agent signed on for that flight, the TG screen came on. 1 Group check-in counter, 3 Economy counters, and 2 Royal Silk counters. Their logic defeats me here. Do we really need 2 business counters for processing not more than 36 passengers, even if fully loaded which it clearly wasn't, and 3 counters to handle the remaining 263 passengers?

They opened up the economy queue, which started to build up quite quickly. However, the stretchy tape thing (I must find out the real name for those dynamically reconfigurable queuing devices) still kept the business lines shut, even though there were 2 agents there at those counters. After a couple of minutes of waiting, I gave up, and walked over to the agent guarding the queue (she checked the itinerary of everyone going into the queue) and asked when the business check-in would open. She immediately called another agent who was standing by the side chatting over, said something sharp to him and looked like she was going to cuff him round the ears, who immediately opened up the business queue looking very sheepish. Straight in, got my boarding pass, and up through immigration and security. The wait at immigration was long – not that there was anyone in the queue, but the immigration officer was being trained, and apparently, I was their first Australian and so, all the security features of the Australian passport were pointed out to him in excruciating detail and compared against “the book”.

Once past that, in to look for the Oberoi Lounge (contract lounge used by everyone) and in I went. Not very well signposted, so I walked straight past in, but another passenger guided me in – it's tucked away behind the Sports Bar. Wifi Internet is available, but you've got to register with your passport, and you get given a one use, one hour login. The lounge was reasonably quiet, and once the SQ flight boarded, almost deserted. Ok, further evidence that business was going to be quite empty.

Just as boarding was called, the lounge attendant came round to get the TG passengers, and 2 of us went off to the boarding gate. No priority line was in place, and there was one long queue of passengers. Resigning myself to a long wait, the lounge attendant called out to one of the gate agents, “business” - and the gate agent came to take us through to the front of the line. However, once through, there was a second line. Secondary security screening – a hand check of our carry-ons, a frisk and a wand-down. Again, the queue controller saw the business boarding pass and came to take me (and I assume the other business passenger from the lounge later) through to the next available security checker, and then, it was on-board.

Another equipment switcheroo! This time, from the new config when I checked in, to the old config with the really old recliner chairs. Never mind. Still beats economy. Business started to fill up quickly though, with people who hadn't been in the lounge. I'm guessing that they were also op-ups, and perhaps not being *G, weren't given lounge access to minimise the costs of paying the contract lounge? Even though there were 7 rows of 6 in business, the last 2 rows were blocked off, so that only 30 seats were available. When the doors closed, 18 of those seats were filled, and at least 3 of those I noticed still had economy boarding passes with a handwritten seat number change.

Not long after, the purser escorted another 2 passengers up, apologising for the seat change, but saying he was sure they'd be comfortable here. Very much so an oversold situation in Y. Because it was nearly 1am when we pushed back, I went straight to sleep from when the seat belt signs went off, to when descent was announced.

Sadly, we parked at E9, the furthest gate from anywhere, but a brisk walk ensured that I'd be first at immigration. No line, bored looking officers, and it was off to baggage claim, passing a young couple sleeping on the floor. Why would you sleep in the baggage claim area? Anyone have any ideas? It took ages for bags to start coming out again, this time, close to 30 minutes. Quite poor, I thought, given it was 5.30am, and no other flights were landing. BKK baggage seems to be having problems at the moment. However, by that time, there were only about 4 of us waiting for bags – I wondered why, until I realised that Indian nationals needed to get Visas on arrival to Thailand, thus slowing them down. Maybe they intentionally delay the baggage processing for that reason? Anyhow, mine was first bag out, and because the shrink wrap had caught on the wheels, I spent 2-3 minutes there fixing that problem. In all that time, no other bags came out – don't know if mine was the only priority bag?

Off into Bangkok city this time, since I had a day and a half in transit due to my BLR-BKK waitlist not clearing.

Last edited by AN*G-BNE; Jan 8, 10 at 12:16 pm Reason: Error in heading (thanks Moomba)
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Old Jan 7, 10, 11:59 pm
  #13  
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Part 11: BKK-FRA TG922 Boeing 747-400

BKK-FRA
TG922 Boeing 747-400 HS-TGP

Soon as I had arrived at the Holiday Inn, I ducked out to pick up a top-up card for my prepaid DTAC SIM so I could get my mobile broadband running. Thailand is now an easy place to get prepaid SIMs. Unlike 3 years ago, with passports required and the like, now, you just need to buy one over the counter with no questions asked. And, there are many counters at BKK airport as soon as you get out of the customs area. I have a DTAC prepaid SIM from previous trips, as I can get Internet for THB 49 per day unlimited – you just ring up and ask them to activate it and it lasts for 24 hours from then.

Checking ExpertFlyer that night, the flight wasn't listed, no matter what sort of query I ran. Ditto with SeatCounter, and I couldn't book the flight on Expedia either. Had the flight been cancelled? I thought I'd better check in online, and found to my relief that I could. I was assigned 22B, but when I tried to bring up the seat change/seat map function, there was just a message saying that seat assignments for this flight were unable to be changed. Odd... I was suspecting a cancellation or something.

The next morning, ExpertFlyer had the flight back, but showing as closed to waitlist in all classes, F, C and Y. In my experience, that means either a really, really oversold flight, or a cancellation, or some other cancellation and they're offloading passengers to this flight.

To make the 1pm departure, I had booked a car to pick me up at 10.30am. After a leisurely breakfast at 7.30am, I went back up to my room to finish repacking (I unpacked everything, discarded what I didn't need and repacked it) and watched the GMAC Bowl between Central Michigan and Troy. I was pretty disappointed at a couple of basic timing errors presumably by the clock operator, with the game clock being restarted incorrectly (I'm assuming the TV game clock is synchronised to the official game clock). Sorry – picky I know, but having worked as a white cap for over 20 years, you tend to notice these things. I didn't get to see the end, as I had to leave with about 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter, and as I'm writing this on the plane, I still don't know what happened.

Got to the airport easily, by 11am, and after getting my bag wrapped again (ok, maybe I'm paranoid, but I figure, what's a couple of dollars and 5 minutes vs making it easier for someone to pilfer something from your bag or it getting rained on or snowed on), I went in to the Royal Silk counter and checked in. I asked what the load was, to be told it was completely full. I debated asking about what was on offer if I agreed to be VDBed to that night's flight 10 hours later, which was showing 4 (maximum) in all classes and most sub-classes, but decided against it.

About a 10 minute wait even at fast track security, and then down into the lounge for a quick stop (I only had about 25 minutes before boarding) and some snacks. Shortly, I left to go to C1, making sure I looked for the registration of the plane, since I did not want to be stuck for 12 hours on an old config 747. HS-TGP – one of the new configs. If it had been an old one, I was going to go back and ask to go on the night flight.

After getting through into the holding pen, I decided to hang around the agents counter to watch what was happening. At BKK, they don't scan the boarding passes – they just tear them off, build up a pile, and someone else types in the seat number periodically. There were a few Royal Silk pre-printed boarding passes intact on the counter, with an A4 piece of paper with some economy seat numbers written on it in large print stuck up on the front of the gate agents counter. Lucky op-ups, I guess. I saw 2 people receive the op-ups, one going away with a huge smile on her face, and another who looked at the boarding pass quizically for a few minutes, checking it against a bit of paper he had, and then eventually going back to the counter to say it wasn't the seat he online checked in for and he really wanted an aisle seat. I couldn't hear the response, but when he left the counter, he still wasn't looking very happy. At least one other person had his seat number changed manually, just by them crossing out the old seat number, and writing the new seat number in, presumably a late op-up – too late to reprint the boarding pass and send it down to the gate.

When I got on board, stowed my carry-on and sat down, a gentleman came up, looked at my seat, and then asked the purser if this was 22B. The purser confirmed it, asked for his boarding pass, and I showed him mine as well. When I saw his economy boarding pass had a hand-written 22B with his old seat crossed out, my hopes that op-up number 3 for this trip would see me being bumped up into First went up. The purser went out to to the gate, and came back with a ground agent, who asked for my boarding pass again, and radioed someone, giving them my name. When I saw the ground agent cross out 22B and write 3K down, I immediately hopped up, grabbed my carry-on and thanked the purser before anyone could change their mind. A double upgrade of sorts, as this was a Q fare, GUPped to J. TG sectors so far, 4. Op-ups 3. Yes. Christmas / New Year is definitely a good time to fly. First is full, with the other 9 passengers boarding as the last minute. So, either all of them were booked in F, or some upgraded at check-in with the benefit of the Royal First ground service.

Remembering my last take-off experience in TG First (documented in Post #3 here), I quickly turned off my mobiles, zipped them up tight in my jacket pocket, and stowed my jacket in the overhead.

Probably because of the completely full flight, it was well past the scheduled 1305 ETD before the doors closed. Then, after a few minutes of thunking type noises, the captain came on to say that they were having problems arming one of the doors, and it would take 5 to 10 minutes to fix. Oh great – from experience, these sorts of problems usually mean hours, or a change of equipment (probably to an old 747), and possibly the loss of my upgrade. To my relief, it was only 3 or 4 minutes later that we pushed back, by which time it was already 1330. I was still expecting an on-time arrival, since I know TG pads the flight times quite substantially on these flights to allow for ATC delays.

Once everyone was all settled in, I was a bit bemused to find that of the 10 passengers, 7 opted to change into the TG purple pyjamas very early on. Certainly makes for quite a sight. Even First seemed like more of a holiday flight though, with 2 couples occupying 1A/2A and 1K/2K, a family of four occupying 1E/1F/2E/2F and only 2 single business travellers in 3A and 3K (me!).

I don't normally document menus, but since the viewing is still on the rather poor December program, even though the AVOD magazine has been replaced with the January program and it is well into January, to pass the time, I did so. Here it is.

First Serving

Hot Savoury
Minced Chicken rolled up with Chinese Sausage

Oscietra Caviar with Garnitures

First Course
Lobster Bellevue
Stuffed Tomato with Balsamic Mayonnaise
Marinated Mozzarella Pearls

Main Course
Grilled Lamb Chop, Brown Mint Sauce, Roesti Potatoes, Mixed Vegetables Western Style
or
Chanterelle stuffed Chicken Breast, Tarragon Cream Sauce, Beetroot Noodles, Vegetables
or
Beef with Eggplant in Green Curry, Steamed Thai Hom Mali Rice, Vegetables
or
Stir-fried Tiger Prawns with Guilin Chilli Sauce, Oriental Fried Rice, Sauteed Vegetables

Bread Selection
Assorted Cheese / Fresh Fruits

Dessert

Orange Cream with Raspberry Sauce
Trio Mousse with Vanilla Sauce
Walnut Mini Tart


Second Serving

Canapes

First Course
Marinated Beef Fillet with Vermicelli Salad Thai Style
Smoked Salmon and Shrimp Roll with Mascarpone and Apple Filling

Soup
Lobster Soup

Main Course
Sliced Veal Zurich Style, White Wine Cream Sauce, Roesti Potatoes, Buttered Carrots
or
Cider Braised Pork Chop, Cider Sauce, Fuji Poached Apple, Pappardelle Noodles, Vegetables
or
Chicken Thigh Curry Pa-naeng, Steamed Thai Hom Mali Rice, Sauteed Kailan with Oyster Sauce
or
Wok Fried stuffed Prawn Mousse, Black Bean Sauce, Egg Noodles, Vegetables

Bread Selection

Dessert
Lemon Almond Tart
Assorted Ice Cream

Right... I have now learnt my lesson about typing in the menu without looking at the screen. I didn't realise that I had accidentally clicked my keyboard over to the German keyboard (easy to accidentally do on a Gnome desktop on Linux), and much of the menu didn't make sense. So, if there are any residual odd characters, I apologise.

After lunch, most of the cabin tried to settle down to sleep, though it seemed unsuccessful for most people, me included, though I'm sure I dropped off here and there. Oh well, I'll hopefully sleep at a normal sort of time in Frankfurt tonight.

The dinner / second serving went quite smoothly too. Rather than a trolley service, the timing for each person was personalised – as soon as you finished what you were eating, it was whisked away and replaced with the next course. Thus, whilst some were finishing their ice cream, others still had their soups. So, as I write this part of the trip report, some people are still on their mains. By this time though, it was obvious that we were going to be substantially late, with the IFE showing an arrival time of 1940, vs the scheduled arrival of 1855. And, with the taxi in, it was likely to be closer to 2000 before disembarking.

About 1 hour out of FRA, it was time to change into warm gear in preparation for the Frankfurt weather. That accomplished, it was time to just settle back and await landing, which for once, involved no delays, and a quick taxi in to the terminal. Thus, we were off the plane by 1945, walking straight past the passengers waiting to board the flight back to BKK. Soon as we left the gate area, I saw two Fraport ladies with signs saying “Thai Premium Service”, with the names of the First passengers, mine included. So, they did get the last minute upgrade into the system and the manifest. She offered to escort me through immigration and to baggage claim, but I politely declined, figuring I'd be able to get there quicker myself anyway, knowing the layout of FRA quite well. And so, the usual questions at immigration, down to baggage, where my bag was already on the belt, along with half a dozen others, and it was out into the arrivals area and down to the bahnhof to catch the DB to the relatives place.

As I won't have easy Internet access for the next week, there'll probably be no more updates for a while.
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Old Jan 8, 10, 6:27 am
  #14  
 
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Great report so far. I am looking forward to the rest.

Post #12 has a typo in the heading though BLR-DEL or BLR-BKK?
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Old Jan 8, 10, 1:21 pm
  #15  
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Thanks Moomba

And to one of the masters of TR writing, Moomba, thanks for the pickup of the title error. All fixed now.

BTW: The op-up'ed at check-in BKK-BLR flight has posted with C miles, but the op-up'ed 24 hours in advance BLR-BKK posted with Y miles. Probably the way the op-up was done at the airport.
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